As the day approaches for Rakhi Poornima, which comes mainly in august, a festival called ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is celebrated on this auspicious occasion on full moon day. Mostly all Indian festivals are celebrated according to the lunar calender, and full moons are associated with birth of great saints and Gods and major festivals also fall accordingly.
Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of the love and trust between brother and sister. even cousin brothers and sisters celebrate. And those who are not connected through the bloodline and still celebrate it , cherish a brother- sister relationship through love and trust. When the sister ties rakhi on the right wrist of her brother she prays for her brothers safety and prosperity at all times and in return the brother vows to protect her sister at all times.
The streets and shops are filled with rakhi stalls days before the festival. Brothers and sisters start shopping for gifts they would exchange on the day. Gifts can be anything from clothes to accessories and gadgets and appliances anything. It is also customary to offer sweets, fruits, handkerchiefs, clothes and coconuts.
The rich Indian Mythology provides a religious reason to celebrate the day in a specific way. Many epics are related to the day and the origin of Raksha Bandhan.
The Legend of Bhavishya Puran
The legend refers to a war between the Gods and the Demons. The demon King Brutra was advancing and the Gods lead by lord Indra, were on verge of defeat. The king of Gods, Indra approached Guru Brihaspati to find a solution to the situation. Brihaspati asked Indra to tie a sacred thread on his wrist, powered by the sacred mantras on the Shravan Purnima. Lord Indra’s Queen Sachi also called Indrani, empowered the thread and tied it on to his hand on the decided day. The power of the sacred thread called Raksha helped the Gods to victory.
The tradition of thread tying still continues. It is a gesture of goodwill.
Yama and Yamuna
It is said that the Raksha Bandhan was a ritual followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna. Yamuna tied rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared thar whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection will become immortal.
Alexander the Great and King Puru
According to one legendary narrative, when Alexander the great invaded India in 326 BC, Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, a Katoch king, gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun
A popular narrative that is centered around Rakhi is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates to 1535 CE. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah , she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor.Humayun arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah managed to sack the Rani’s fortress. Karnavati, along with a reported 13,000 other women in the fortress, carried out Jauhar on March 8, 1535, killing themselves to avoid dishonor while the men threw the gates open and rode out on a suicidal charge against Bahadur Shah’s troops. When he reached Chittor, Humayun evicted Bahadur Shah from fort and restored the kingdom to Karnavati’s son, Vikramjit Singh.
Krishna and Draupadi
Another incident from the epic Mahabharata concerns Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. She had once torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist to staunch the bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna was touched by her action and declared her to be his sister, even though they were unrelated. He promised to repay the debt and then spent the next 25 years doing just that. Draupadi, in spite of being married to five great warriors and being a daughter of a powerful monarch, trusted and depended wholly on Krishna. Krishna repaid the debt of love during the “Cheer-Haran” (literally “clothing-removing”) of Draupadi, which occurred in the assembly of King Dhritarashtra when Yudhistira lost her to the kauravas in gambling. At that time, Krishna indefinitely extended her saree through divine intervention, so it could not be removed, to save her honor. This is how he honored his rakhi vow towards Draupadi.
Rakhis are mainly made of colorful threads, sometimes beaded and stuck with motifs and crystals and stones, even precious stones.
The sister ties the rakhi at a appropriate time of the day normally called ‘mahurat’ (A special time when the specified work gets best of results) . She prepares a ‘thali'(Plate consisting of , rakhi, lighted lamp, sweets, rice grains, chandan powder, kumkum or sindoor (Vermillion),coconut, handkerchief & money.
The sister then puts a ’tilak’ on her brothers forehead, she puts chandan powder, then kumkum, and then rice grains also called as ‘akshat’. then she does ‘arti’ ( to rotate the thali around the face of the brother in clockwise motion), then she ties the rakhi on his right hand sometimes even uttering a mantra ie Yenabaddho Baleeraja, Daanavendro Mahabalaha Thethathwa mabhi badhnami, Rakshamachala maachala Meaning-” On the request of all the Gods, Vishnu tied up the strong and powerful demon King Bali with his strength. I am tying the power of Vishnu Shakti in the form of raksha on your hand,With the force and energy of this thread, all the Gods will stand at your side and keep you healthy and wealthy forever. Then she offers him coconut, handkerchief, clothes and whatever gifts she has brought for him and in the end they feed each other sweets.
On some occasion rakhi is also tied to the brothers wife on her left wrist, to uncles and sometimes father and even husband, all wishing the same safety and prosperity of the person. Happy Raksha Bandhan.